History has her down as the ultimate survivor but the sad end to the story of Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, is behind the tales of sightings of her ghost at the last castle she called home. For the queen consort who avoided the axeman is said to roam the corridors of Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire looking for the baby daughter she left behind.
Katherine’s ghost is reported to have been seen in several parts of the pretty castle but in particular around the rooms set aside as a nursery for the baby she was expecting when she arrived to live there in 1548. By then, Henry had been dead for over a year and Katherine was married to her fourth husband, the dashing but dastardly Thomas Seymour who had already caused his new wife plenty of trouble by the time they set up home in the Cotswolds to await the arrival of their first child.
Katherine gave birth to their daughter, Mary, on August 30th 1548 but soon began to show the worrying signs of illness. Within days, she was making her last will and on September 5th 1548, she passed away, another victim of the puerperal fever which claimed so many women at the time. Her little girl continued to thrive but was an orphan within months when Thomas Seymour was executed for treason in March 1549. Mary Seymour disappeared from the records the following year and is presumed to have died young.
However, the ghost of the woman who outwitted Henry VIII and talked him out of having her arrested and carted off to the Tower, is said to walk through Sudeley, looking for Mary, the baby she longed for but never got to see grow up. There are reports of a woman in a green dress making her way through Sudeley Castle, searching for something or someone. Katherine Parr is buried at St. Mary’s Church at Sudeley, just yards from the rooms she used in her lifetime.
Five centuries on, her sad story continues to haunt the castle where she died.